Errors prove costly once again as late tries leave University of Bath waiting for first BUCS Super Rugby win
The University of Bath men’s 1st XV were once again left to rue errors at crucial moments as three tries in the last 15 minutes gave BUCS Super Rugby league leaders Northumbria University the spoils on Wednesday.
The IKON Construction-sponsored home side looked well placed for a first win of the season when tries from Mike Snook, Tom Doughty (pictured left) and Scott Russell plus three conversions and a penalty from Will Flinn deservedly put them 24-14 up in the first half.
However, Northumbria capitalised on a mistake to score a try on the stroke of half-time through hooker Michael Newstead and an excellent conversion from Joshua Bragman – who had also added extras to touchdowns from George Wacokecoke and James Christie – closed the gap to three points.
Flinn kicked a penalty just after the restart but that proved to be the only points of a disappointing second period for the hosts, who were unable to get going as an attacking force.
A Bragman penalty cut the lead once again before, with Bath reduced to 14 men, prop Jamie Ross touched down to put Northumbria ahead for the first time. The influential Christie then darted over for two more tries to seal a fourth win of the season for the table-toppers.
Aaron James, Head of Rugby at the University of Bath, said: “It’s the same old story. We were right in it in the first half and stuck to our game plan. Apart from a couple of defensive errors we were doing really well, so there was a lot of confidence at half-time.
“Northumbria are a good side and capitalised well but we are very, very disappointed in how individual errors cost us the game. At crucial times we made mistakes. Credit to Northumbria, they scored some really good tries and I like their attacking style of play but we managed to contain it for large periods of the game.
“We have to look at the areas where are in control that are losing us games and we have to fix them. It’s tough but the people who will get ourselves out of this are us – the players and the coaches.”
Bath got off to a great start as, with just five minutes on the clock, they won a lineout in the Northumbria 22 and spread the ball across the pitch before a lovely feint and offload by Flinn put flanker Snook in for the opening try.
Flinn added the extras but Northumbria levelled moments later as a slip in the Bath defence allowed Racokecoke to nip through for a try that Bragman converted.
Bath were looking incisive and confident in attack and regained the lead when hooker Doughty – last season’s leading try scorer and making his first start of the season after injury – produced a fantastic burst of pace to slice through the Northumbria defence and touch down under the posts, leaving Flinn with an easy conversion.
The visitors responded well again and, after forcing a succession of scrums on the Bath line, Christie was able to peel away before beating a couple of tackles to score in the corner. Bragman’s superb kick from the touchline levelled at 14-14.
Cheered on by another vocal home crowd, Bath got back on the front foot and a Flinn penalty put them ahead once more before a trademark drive from a 5m lineout resulted in a converted try for Russell.
The hosts were on the attack again in the closing stages of the half but a knock-on when well placed allowed Northumbria to kick to the corner and barge over from the resulting lineout, Newstead getting the try which Bragman again converted to cut the interval deficit to 24-21.
Flinn kicked a fine penalty from just inside the Northumbria half to extend the lead to six but, after surviving a couple of scares from misjudged bounces, the visitors responded with three points of their own from Bragman on the hour mark.
Bath were then reduced to 14 men when replacement Kieron Verdon was yellow-carded for not retreating after a quick tap penalty. Northumbria took full advantage of their extra man to drive over in the corner through Ross to edge into a 29-27 lead.
The home side were twice gifted lineouts in attacking positions by Northumbria errors but overthrew both of them, then were adjudged not to have thrown the ball straight from a defensive set piece. That error was compounded when, from the resulting scrum, Christie was able to race through for his second try of the game.
The scrum-half again showed great pace and footwork to complete his hat-trick, with Jake Rodgers’ missed conversion being the last action of the game.
Bath visit league newcomers Nottingham Trent University next Wednesday (November 1, 7pm) before back-to-back home matches against two of Super Rugby’s biggest names – Exeter University on November 8 and defending champions Hartpury College on November 22. Both kick-off at 6.30pm on the athletics infield and admission, as to all home matches, is free.
The University of Bath BUCS Super Rugby squad are sponsored by IKON Construction and supported by Investigo.
University of Bath: 15 Will Partington, 14 Levi Davis, 13 Craig Duncan, 12 Charlie Dunbar, 11 Jack London, 10 Will Flinn, 9 Louis Mulholland; 1 Austin Hay, 2 Tom Doughty, 3 David da Costa, 4 Will Britton (c), 5 Scott Russell, 6 Mike Snook, 7 Chris Barry, 8 Jack Davies. Replacements: 16 George Frampton, 17 Arthur Cordwell, 18 Kieron Verdon, 19 Derryn Jones, 20 Josh Lilly, 21 Luca Petrozzi, 22 Darren Atkins.
Tries: Snook, Doughty, Russell.
Conversions: Flinn 3.
Penalties: Flinn 2.
Northumbria University: 15 Ruairi Howarth, 14 Aedan Moloney, 13 Lewis Berg, 12 Suva Ma’’asi, 11 George Wacokecoke, 10 Joshua Bragman, 9 James Christie; 1 Jake Ellwood, 2 Michael Newstead, 3 Jamie Ross, 4 Edward Bloodworth, 5 Michael Walton, 6 George Bordill, 7 Matthew Jenkinson, 8 Oliver Robinson. Replacements: 16 Ralph Johnston, 17 Henry Mawhood, 18 John Warburton, 19 Nathan Smith, 20 Thomas Broadhead, 21 Jake Rodgers, 22 Jonathan Ashman.
Tries: Racokecoke, Christie 3, Newstead, Ross.
Conversions: Bragman 3.
Referee: Dan Parrott.
Assistant referees: Andy Wigley, Stephen Hambley.